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November 9, 2023

More temporary work visas now available to help employers fill jobs

File photos U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King announce more than 64,000 additional H-2B visas to be issued.

More temporary worker visas are coming, offering potential help for some short-staffed employers in Maine and throughout the U.S.

An additional 64,716 H-2B nonagricultural worker visas are available for the 2024 fiscal year on top of the congressionally mandated 66,000 H-2B visas available each fiscal year.

The federal departments of labor and homeland security issued a joint rule making available the additional visas, said U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine.

H-2B visas fill needs for American small businesses when there are not enough able and willing American workers to fill the temporary, seasonal positions. Employers must first concerted effort to hire American workers to fill open positions.

“These additional H-2B visas are a welcome relief for small businesses throughout Maine that continue to face a shortage of employees,” said Collins and King in a news release. “These visas are a lifeline for our state’s economy, helping businesses meet the increasing demand for their products and services.”

The additional FY 24 H-2B visas are expected to include 20,000 visas for workers from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras. In addition to the 20,000 country-specific allocations, 44,716 supplemental visas would be available to returning workers who received an H-2B visa or were otherwise granted H-2B status during one of the last three fiscal years.

In the past few months, Collins and King have pushed federal government to increase the availability of visas. In June, the senators sent a letter to the Department of Labor requesting an explanation for the delays affecting the processing of labor certifications for the visa applications. 

In March, a bipartisan group led by King urged the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider its plans to more than double the fees businesses pay for H-2A seasonal agricultural and H-2B non-immigrant work visas.

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